Pierce, Perkins improving

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Paul Pierce stretched his injured right knee Saturday (John Tlumacki, Globe Staff)

Doc Rivers met with the media today at TD Banknorth Garden and, as was expected, the topic of conversation was the status of starters Paul Pierce (sprained right knee) and Kendrick Perkins (sprained left ankle).

Although both players spent the entire media-access portion of practice riding stationary bikes, Rivers indicated today he was “more optimistic” about Pierce’s chances of playing in Game 2 of the NBA Finals than he was about Perkins, who indicated he was feeling better and figured to be “about 75-80 percent” by game time Sunday night at 9 p.m.

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“I don’t know how effective either one will be,” Rivers said. “They may be very effective. Paul is moving much better today, that’s clear. And so of the two, he’s the guy I’m more optimistic about, just watching him move around and walk around.

“If we played today, could either one of them play? It would be dicey, but I think they could.”

Pierce said he’s definitely expecting to play Sunday night. He said his knee still has some stiffness, but he also said he’s seen some progress since Friday.

“I think it’s mostly my range of motion,” said Pierce. “Just being able to squat all the way down. I can’t quite do that yet. My walk is pretty good actually, but when I go down into a squat position, that’s when I feel it the most, when I bend it. Like if you look at the knee, if you bend it all the way, there’s some pain there. But this motion when I’m straight and I’m walking is pretty good.”

The Celtics captain said he might pull a Brian Scalabrine and ride an exercise bike to stay loose when he’s not on the court. He said he certainly won’t have a problem staying motivated.

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“I think it’s going to be easy as far as handlling it mentally,” he said. “Because once you step on that court, hear the crowd, you look up and you see posters of The Finals, I’m totally going to probably forget about it. From there on, my adrenaline will probably get going.

“Usually you tend to forget about injuries when you’re on that court and you’re playing for something special,” Pierce added. “That’s what you dream about all your life.”

Here’s a selection of quotes from today’s media availability at the Garden:

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins

Q. How’s your ankle doing?

“There’s a little aching in it, but it’s all right.”

Q. What’s the pain level, better than yesterday?

“Yeah, it’s all wrapped up. Yesterday I felt like 60 percent, today it’s like 80.”


Q. Do you think you’ll be thinking about the ankle tomorrow?
“I’m not going to worry about it. I’m just going to try to go out there and do what I can, and as I said, I’m going to go all-out, and whatever happens, happens.”
Q. Do you think they can match you physically?
“Yeah, I think [Pau] Gasol doesn’t get credit for being physical. I think he’s all right. He’s not soft in my opinion. You know, a lot of people say he’s not that physical, but I think he played pretty physical.”

Lakers forward Pau Gasol

Q. Is Kendrick Perkins being Utah-style physical or more or less?
“He’s maybe a bigger body, but he’s also longer, so he loses a little bit of leverage. But he’s definitely a force in there and he does a good job being physical and using his body well. So that’s been a big plus for them all playoff long, all year long, I think.”
Q. Has Phil [Jackson] talked about maybe expecting more touches this game? I think you got 11 shots last game or something like that.
“We talked about it a little bit. We want to make sure we establish a post presence and play inside-out a little bit more. I think that’s going to help our offense and hopefully also give me a little more in the lane and being aggressive, and force them to play a little defense on me. I think that should be interesting, hopefully; that would be great.”

Lakers coach Phil Jackson

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Q. Your comments yesterday about Paul Pierce, have they made it any tougher for you the last couple 24 hours? I’ve gotten a lot of emails about the comments. Have you heard from Boston fans that made it any more difficult the last 24 hours?
“No, I hope they take that in good stead.”
Q. On the same subject, you’ve been coaching marquee teams for a long time and you’ve been having your fun all the time that you’ve been doing it, and you had some consequences like when you said what you said about Sacramento and they showed up with cowbells for about five years after that. Are you surprised how seriously people take everything you say? Do you mean it in more jest than people are picking up?
“Well, we really should have a lot of fun about this; this is sports, after all. These are fun and games. Yeah, I kid the NBA about taking the fun out of the Finals, but this is still fun. We try to make this fun.”

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Q. How do you see the rivalries today versus the game in the ’80s and even the ’90s just in terms of hatred?
“You know, I’ve heard stories in the past of them coming here and not getting room service and stuff like that. I mean, my room service is cool (laughter). You know, I got the nice apple pie with the ice cream on top, á la mode. I didn’t even ask for the ice cream but they hooked me up (laughter).
I’ve heard just horror stories from the past in the ’80s when the guys came here. It’s not like that. There’s a healthy competition, and they obviously want to win, the city wants to win, but it’s not like ‘I hate your guts.'”